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COVID-19: Protection of healthcare workers

31 July 2020


The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) acknowledges the risk posed to the community, healthcare workers (HCW), and all patients, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rate of community transmission has increased significantly in Victoria. This places a significant burden on the healthcare system, patients and the HCW who look after them. The College is saddened to hear of infections amongst HCW, our colleagues and friends, some of whom who have been admitted to hospital. They are in our thoughts and we wish them a quick and complete recovery.
 
The College respects the role of governments, health departments and health administrators in coordinating local and national responses. The purpose of this communiqué is to emphasise that protection of the physical and mental wellbeing of HCW must be an unequivocal priority. The community will only be protected if HCW workers are protected. Consistent, unambiguous and transparent communication is essential.

The people who care for us deserve our gratitude, respect and support. They too have families, loved ones, health concerns and economic impacts as a result of the pandemic. HCW are not immune to anxiety or distress. This is a time for kindness and compassion, for patience and understanding.
 
Midwives, nurses, doctors and other personnel caring for patients, have a right to be fully informed about potential risks, and to have access to protective equipment and appropriate training. Robust infection control procedures and protocols must be in place. Health services should accept that all healthcare workers will feel vulnerable at this time, and ensure that appropriate supports are in place. RANZCOG accepts that guidance regarding optimal use of PPE may vary according to circumstances and clinicians should follow the advice and protocols of their local authority.



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